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					                                Beavers
Beavers are known to be the largest rodents found in North America and
Canada. This species (scientific name Castor canadensisis) is well distributed
across the United States and Canada. Yet, you will not see the American
Beaver in either Florida, or Mexico. This type of climate does not suit the
famous rodent. Its outstanding qualities and abilities have provided for much
popularity. The Beaver is one of the most reputable animals and is definitely a
much-admired rodent in both the United States and Canada. It is the National
symbol of Canada and two US states, namely Oregon and New York have
adopted it as the state symbol.
Beavers - Description

The Beaver reaches the weight of about 60-70
pounds. In fact, its size varies from one area to
another and depends greatly on the amount of
available food. In times when food is most
abundant, Beavers can grow to be about 80
pounds. However, their average weight is about
35 pounds, like that of a medium-sized dog. As
for the difference between sexes, male Beavers
are not much larger than females. In fact,
                                                            Photo courtesy of
individual females are known to be larger than        Beaver Wetlands and Wildlife ©
males.                                                            2002
                                                      Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife
The total length of an adult Beaver is about 41-
46 inches. A long saddle-like tail provides much of the length. The tail can
grow to be about 10-16 inches with thickness about one-half in the middle.
The Beaver's powerful tail that is 5-6 inches wide serves as a rudder when
swimming and it has a number of other uses. As a matter of fact, the tail is a
very important device that helps the Beaver not only underwater but also on
land. The species is known to use the tail when standing on its hind legs. The
tail, in this case, can be compared to a prop that safely keeps its owner in a
vertical position. Iterant sounds that are often heard in a Beaver home range
are also due to Beaver's tail appliance. The animal slaps the water in the case
of danger. It is believed that this sort of slapping may be a warning signal
meant to other Beavers who usually establish their homes up or down the
same stream.

Beavers are mainly aquatic animals that spend most of time underwater.
When on land, Beaver's movements are clumsy and far from elegant. Short
legs and a heavy, rocket-like body are poor equipment to make a good runner
or climber. Yet, water is a perfect environment for the Beaver. Indeed, the
Beaver can boast to have virtually everything to permit the Beaver to feel right
at home in the water. Webbed feet and a long flat tail provide for quick
swimming. Transparent eyelids and valves on their small ears and nose that
close once the animal goes underwater, allow it to stay underwater for a long
period of time. Beavers are known to submerge for about 3-4 minutes. This
time is enough for them to swim about one-half mile before having to
replenish the amount of oxygen. This ability is truly wonderful, yet it is not the
limit. It is estimated that the Beaver is capable of staying underwater for more
than 10 minutes.

Perhaps one feature of the most prominent features of the Beaver is its sharp
teeth. Four incisors, or gnawing teeth, are about one inch long and grow
throughout the whole life of the animal. This quality is common in other
rodents arming them with an ever-effective means of managing food and
other hard materials. The Beaver's coat also deserves attention. The animal
has a soft undercoat that provides for insulation during cold weather and a
long guard coat. The undercoat is lighter in color ranging from reddish to
brown, while the outer coat is usually of deep chestnut brown colors. Beavers
use the oil from glands that are situated on the belly to grease their hairs all
over the body. This simple procedure is a perfect means of protecting the coat
from cold water.

Beavers - Diet

Beavers feed mainly on what they can find in
their habitat. This includes vegetarian food such
as aspen, willow, cottonwood, leaves, apples,
crops, and similar fare. Fish can also comprise
Beaver's ration, yet the animal does not hunt. It
eats dead fish found near-by. Careful and
prudent, Beavers hide food in their underwater
                                                              Photo courtesy of
tunnels to make use of it in winter periods.            British Columbia Adventure
                                                           Network © 1996-2003
Beavers - Value

Beavers are considered a "cornerstone species" since they change the
habitat they live in like no other animal. Thanks to the Beaver, other species
such as turtles, frogs, birds, and fish can find a good home and enjoy naturally
created habitat. Naturally created wetlands help to cleanse the water and
serve as filters that are instrumental in getting rid of pollutants and silt. These
areas are a valuable means of irrigation and water control. Beavers take a
fitting niche in present day environment and do a perfect job. Besides, their
fur, oil from castor glands, and other garments are quite valuable and can
successfully be used in the fur and perfume industry, and any other sphere
humans can find application.

However, economic and ecological values of the Beaver have been the
subject of much debate of late. With growing numbers of animals in practically
every state and province, damage caused by this rodent's activity seems to
surpass its value. Dams result in flooding which can be negative for forests,
roads, and agriculture. Beavers may damage fish and farm ponds and destroy
agricultural crops when feeding. A number of other dreadful effects caused by
this species' activities have aroused the need for managing Beavers and
preventing them from undesirable habitat changes.

				
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